A MAN caught by a ‘paedophile hunter’ group thought he was talking to a 14-year-old boy on the gay dating website Grindr, Ballymena Magistrates Court heard.
Peter David Clyde (39), with an address listed as Rocavan Meadow in Broughshane, was at court this week for sentencing after previously being convicted of ‘attempted sexual communication with a child’.
The charge relates to January 18 last year.
The specifics of the charge are that ‘being a person aged 18 years or over, for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification intentionally attempted to communicate with a person under 16 years, the communication being sexual or intended to encourage the said person to make a communication that was sexual, and you did not reasonably believe that person was 16 years or over contrary to Article 3(1) of the Criminal Attempts and Conspiracy (Northern Ireland) 1983 and Article 22A of the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008.’
Clyde originally faced a second charge – ‘paying for sexual services of a person’ – but that was withdrawn by prosecutors recently.
The specifics of that charge had been: ‘Defendant on 18/01/2018, obtained sexual services from a person in exchange for payment, the payment having been made or promised by you, contrary to Article 64A of the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008’.
Whilst there have been previous prosecutions in Northern Ireland under legislation introduced in 2015, both involved attempting to pay for sexual services.
Clyde was understood to have been the first person charged with ‘paying for sexual services of a person’.
A prosecutor told this week’s court police received information from a “paedophile hunter group” called ‘Predator Catchers NI’ who had used a ‘decoy’ posing as a 14-year-old boy on Grindr.
Clyde embarked on a series of private messages including one where he said he would like to “tie the boy up, put him in the boot of a car … and perform sexual acts on him”.
The court heard 100 messages were exchanged during which the decoy constantly reminded the defendant he was a 14-year-old boy.
The ‘hunter group’ sent screenshots of the conversations to police who arrested Clyde.
A defence barrister said the defendant, who currently lives with his mother, had long-standing problems with depression and back problems.
District Judge Nigel Broderick asked “has the penny dropped” with Clyde that it “wasn’t the internet’s fault?”
The defence lawyer said although there had been reference to ‘entrapment’ there was now a “degree of acceptance and responsibility” from Clyde.
The barrister said the defendant had made no attempt to meet the decoy.
Judge Broderick said it was a “very serious” matter and said although a decoy was involved Clyde believed he was communicating with a 14-year-old boy.
The court heard Clyde had “one relevant” entry on his record in 2004 but that Probation assessed him as a “medium likelihood of re-offending”.
The judge said the pre-sentence report mentioned Probation and he put Clyde on Probation for a year with conditions including participation in whatever is recommended by officials.
Clyde must reside in approved accommodation and also has to inform Probation if he enters any personal relationship and he is to have no contact with children apart from unavoidable every day contact.
He was also put on the Sex Offenders Register for five years.
Clyde was also made the subject of a five year Sexual Offences Prevention Order which prohibits him from doing a number of things without the permission of his Designated Risk Manager including staying away overnight; entering relationships involving access to children; no contact with children aged under 16; he must not take part in activities involving access to children and he must not use computers, mobile phones or devices with internet access.
He is also prohibited from undertaking any activity in paid, private, voluntary or charitable capacity which affords access to children or young persons, unless approved of his Designated Risk Manager.